I must admit that I do feel a natural affinity with the new Scott Foil model. I feel its pain, I know its joy. I too am a younger sibling, coming into the world being compared and contrasted against your brother/sister before you. Matched against a set of criteria not of your own making and measured with a stick already marked by somebody else’s notches. In the case of frame evolution, expected to improve on their faults yet still exhibit their strengths. When Scott introduced the first Foil back in 2010 they hailed the frame as a new way of approaching aerodynamic design for road frames. The patented truncated airfoil design provided an efficient laminar air flow path whilst allowing a more circular tube shape in order to provide greater stiffness than traditional airfoil profiles. The design was highly effective and whether directly from Scott or independently, numerous companies were soon adopting aero profiles of similar styles into parts of their own designs. This period marked a transitional phase in road bike design and sales, which now sees almost all of the major brands offering an aero model in their race range. The early Foil models were arguably too stiff, providing great race dynamics but not much compromise in the comfort stakes. The frame was perhaps too bone jarring for some, and has been a technicality Scott has attempted to remedy with their latest model.
Which brings us to the current model. The younger sibling. The release of the new Scott Foil frame was perhaps overshadowed by the exotic and high profile releases by Specialised and Trek which occurred around the same time. In comparison, the advances incorporated into the new Foil are more evolutionary in nature, naturally garnering less attention but not necessarily less beneficial. Many of the changes to the Foil frame design, merge the aesthetics closer to many of market leaders in the aero race category. The subtleties of the original Foil design have been replaced by bolder design, deeper profiles and more overt aero features. Perhaps a younger brother looking for attention, or perhaps simply good design.
Every release of a new model is accompanied by claims of “lighter, stiffer, faster yet more compliant”. The new Foil is no exception; Scott has made claim to some impressive gains in multiple areas concurrently. To their credit, they do have figures to back up their claims, but as with any “in house” figures, these should be taken with a grain of salt. The new Foil is claimed to be on average 6 watts slipperier than its predecessor over a range of yaw angles, equating to a 27 second saving over 40km at 45km/hr. Despite the significant rigidity of the previous model, the new Foil boasts increased stiffness in multiple areas: 13% increase in at the bottom bracket, 13.5% torsionally at the headtube and 6% laterally at the fork. Remarkably, the vertical compliance is reported as 89% greater than the original Foil. These impressive numbers occur whilst maintaining a respectable frame weight figure of 945g (Medium in the premium model). Whilst these figures would naturally be handpicked from a range of testing done on the frames, the design features responsible for each of the gains are evident upon visual inspection of the frame.
Firstly: the slipperiness. At low yaw angles (that is a headwind) much of the drag of a bike is generated by the leading parts of the bike. In the frame, the culprit is the headtube, the new Foil has markedly different shape with reworked transition areas between the headtube and both the stem and the fork. These changes alone may account for a large proportion of the increased aerodynamic efficiency.
Secondly, increased stiffness. The PF86 bottom bracket area allows for a very wide section of carbon around this critical junction. Additional stiffness is created by use of larger carbon sections in strategic locations such as the increased steerer tube diameter.
Thirdly, compliance. This was the area with the most significant gains reported and is accounted for by the most overt of the design changes. The seat stays now contact the seat tube at a much lower point and are notably thin. This is increasingly common in aero road frames as it gives compliance in a critical area for rider comfort without much compromise in torsional stiffness or handling dynamics.
So that is all the theory and marketing, but how does the new Foil perform on the road in the saddle and indeed, out of the saddle? The model tested here is the mid range Foil 10, it does not utilise the top specification of carbon, rather the second tier HMF carbon which reportedly matches closely in strength and weight to the top range HMX. The Foil 10 does not have the integrated cockpit (handlebars) but utilises a more conventional setup. The proprietary Syncros stem and bars provide what is actually a very comfortable and effective setup. Attached to the frame are the full suite of Shimano Ultegra Di2 components. This effectively reduces costs, whilst being a proven performer. The semi compact crankset, provides a useful range of gear ratio options to tackle a lot of terrain. The only gripe with the groupset is the undermount rear brake. It performed without fault, but doesn’t provide enough clearance to the left crank to allow left crank based power meters to be used.
On the road the Foil was immediately confidence inspiring. The sharp handling and rigidity of its older brother has clearly not been lost. Out of the saddle efforts are met with enthusiasm by what is best described as a lively frame. The whole system seems to work well together, frame, bars, drivetrain, wheels all combining seamlessly. I found the Syncros bars particularly comfortable, they angle back a little as they exit the stem clamp providing an aggressive aesthetic and feel and also use a moderate amount of drop. The Syncros RR2 wheelset (yes almost every component on the Foil is from Scott’s proprietary range) are arguably the lowest specified component on the bike. The 30mm deep alloy rims are laced to DT swiss hubs and weigh in at around 1700g. Certainly not light but, surprisingly, they did not appreciably dull the ride or responsiveness of the Foil. The biggest bugbear was the integrated seat clamp. Without carbon paste it would slip almost immediately upon sitting in the saddle. A tacky carbon past alleviated the slippage, but the clamp was still prone to creaking when putting in a seated effort or hopping back in the saddle.
Scott’s claims of significantly improved compliance proved to be true. Whilst the Foil 10 wouldn’t be described as a plush ride, it still provided more than adequate damping over a range of road conditions. There were never moments I was left wishing for a softer ride. This is highlighted by the fact that Matt Hayman rode the Foil on route to his incredible victory in Paris Roubaix earlier this year. In terms of testing a bike’s compliance and comfort, the bone jarring pave of Paris Roubaix surely eclipses any other. If the Foil could be ridden there, and indeed ridden to victory, it surely can be ridden anywhere.
One unexpected highlight of the Foil 10 test was the Syncros RR2 saddle. Often during test rides the saddle provides discomfort, not due to bad design but simply because they are not what the reviewer is used to. Because of this I don’t often comment. However, I found the Syncros saddle to be firm and highly comfortable even on longer rides or over rougher terrain. The glassfibre reinforced nylon chassis, looks impressively aggressive but is evidently very well designed. At 225 grams the weight is respectable too.
All in all, the newer generation (younger sibling) Foil manages to shake off the preconceptions of the older designs, improving particularly in the compliance area. The result is a new model which stands on its own two… wheels(?) and performs well in all categories. The Foil 10 provides a mid range option which still provides the zip, agility and aerodynamic benefits the top Foil models provide.
Quality: A great quality frame matched with well-equipped components across the board.
Performance: Rigidity and responsiveness from the Foil frame deliver a ride which feels lively. Sharp handling and sleek aero profiles complete what is a high performance package for those wanting to go fast.
Value: At close to $6,000 retail, this isn’t a cheap buy, but neither is it exorbitant. The mid-range offering supplies the majority of benefits of the top models with a much lower price tag.
Overall: A fast and lively machine, its quality aero design matched with good componentry. A wheel upgrade perhaps and there’s not much else to desire. Little to fault in what is an overall good package.
Frame: FOIL HMF / IMP, F01 AERO Carbon tech.
Fork: FOIL HMF, 1 1/4″ – 1 1/2″ Carbon steerer
Headset: Syncros Integrated
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra RD-6870 Electronic
Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra FD-6870 Electronic
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra ST-6870
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra BR-6810 / 6810 rear Super SLR Dual pivot / direct mount
Crankset: Shimano Ultegra FC-6800 Hollowtech II 52×36 T
BB-Set: Ultegra SM-BB72-41
Handlebar: Syncros RR2.0 Anatomic 31.8mm
Stem: Syncros FOIL 1 1/4″
Seatpost: Syncros FOIL aero Carbon
Seat: Syncros RR2.0
Wheels: Syncros RR2.0
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra CS-6800 11-28
Tyres: Continental Grand Sport Race Fold 700x25C
Distributor: Sheppard Cycles